Reports: Music in Sudan

All that jazz
Urban musicians introduced violins, accordions and horns - and the odd flute and mandolin - after World War II, electric guitars in the 1960s and electronic keyboards in the 1980s.

These were used by Sudanese to beef up their traditional styles. Those from the traditions of northern, western and central Sudan took styles such as haqiiba - a chant with chorus and minimal percussion - infused them with Egyptian-Arab or European elements, and developed al-aghani' al-hadith (modern songs). As early as the 1920s Egyptian producers brought Sudanese singers to record in Cairo, and instruments of the orchestra began to replace the call-and-response of the chorus.

Southerners, Nuba and other non-Arab communities were well represented in the forces across the country. For impoverished young conscripts in post-independence Sudan, the police and army "jazz-bands" offered the best access to equipment, and what started out as British military brass band styles often metamorphosed in the 1960s and 70s to become "jazz" in the East African sense. This imitates the intersecting guitars of Kenya's Shirati Jazz and the myriad Luo language bands around Lake Victoria - although any soukous, rhumba or benga gets called "Je-luo" in Sudan. (By the time their music reached as far north as Khartoum, even African stars like Franco and Tabu Ley were anonymized in this way. Few knew their names, they just recognised the style).

Foreign artists